Sankarea 06 – The bare necessities of life is all you need
May 15, 2012 Leave a comment
One of the intriguing things about Sankarea is Chihiro’s zombie fetish, or more accurately, how his zombie fetish isn’t as bad as some people may think. At first we are shown quite explicitly that Chihiro wants a zombie girlfriend, and that he doesn’t seem to view normal humans as worth him time. But over the past six episodes it has become clear that while Chihiro may have an obsession with zombies, that isn’t all there is to his life. He has a family that he cares about greatly, and of course there is Rea, someone who he has grown attached to over the course of the series so far. Chihiro cares for Rea and for her health and safety not necessarily because she is now a zombie, but because he has seen a girl who is deeply hurt and scarred by her family life. She had nowhere else to go, and perhaps Chihiro feels responsible for her turning into a zombie, as demonstrated by his narration during the beginning of the series.
It occurs to Chihiro that his dream of a zombie girlfriend has perhaps become a reality, and yet he still does not quite view Rea as a true zombie. The difference between the almost cartoonish representations of zombies in films and the reality are too far apart. Of course, he knows that she is dead, he saw her died and resurrect as a zombie, however, even her strange behaviour just seems to be an element of the eccentricities of her personality. We do however know that the ‘zombie medicine’ that Chihiro made as originally invented by his grandfather Jogorou, and is not perfect. The discovery that Hydrangea leaves are what keep Rea alive and able to retain her humanity provides some breathing room. However, Chihiro is fully aware that Hydrangea will only be in season for a short period of time, and therefore must come up with a way of perfecting the resurrection recipe before anything else happens.
We can also see how Chihiro has yet to quite work out how he can tell his family about Rea. It might seem like Chihiro is being insensitive when he refuses to have Rea at the dinner table, but there is the definite impression that he is only looking out for Rea and his family in the only way tat he can. Mero may have made a portion for Rea, but Chihiro worries that since Rea is dead she wouldn’t be able to taste the food and therefore upset or offend Mero in the process. It is this willingness to look after everyone around him, no matter how clumsy or clunky his actions may appear that illustrates how good natured a character Chihiro is.
Of course, Chihiro now has to live with the notion that while Rea may retain her humanity, she is still dead and her body will slowly rot and change over time, becoming the true walking dead. Chihiro has to therefore come to terms with the realities of what he has accomplished, and truly understands the gravity of the situation that he finds himself in. He has to take responsibility for Rea and vows to discover a way of maintaining her current body and way of life. That he would go so far as to beg his father to let Rea stay further suggests that while Chihiro may be interested in zombies along with taking responsibility for his actions, there is another, stronger connection between him and Rea. This does, unfortunately, come at the cost of Ranko and her obvious strong feelings for Chihiro.
She might do her best to hide such feelings, and while it may be obvious to the audience, it is clear that Chihiro, while not oblivious to them, doesn’t quite acknowledge them either. Chihiro’s reaction the Ranko’s scream does however demonstrate how much he cars for her, while simultaneously showing his knowledge, and fears surrounding zombies. He is worried that something might have happened to both Ranko and Rea, suggesting that while he may not notice Ranko’s feelings for him, he sees her as someone of immense importance. Much like other anime with such characters, Chihiro and Ranko are essentially too close, and we have seen Chihiro treat Ranko more like an incredibly close friend, or part of the family (she is his cousin), rather than a potential love interest.
When Ranko notices Rea’s strange appearance, she immediately suggests that Rea has become a zombie, instead of asking if she is ill or not, which helps to express how close Ranko is to Chihiro. Her discomfort at Chihiro begging his father to let Rea stay is plain to see, and the pained expression on her face when she leaves is heart breaking. The scene when Rea and Ranko stare at each other is a particularly interesting, and powerful scene, that suggests a mutual understanding, but also an element of animosity from Ranko. She is angry and frustrated that Rea has simply waltzed in effectively taken Chihiro from her, but at the same time there is some sort of emotional connection or understanding between the two, with both noticing and perhaps understanding each others feelings. However, Ranko still helps by bringing over spare clothes, indicating that while she may not be happy at the current arrangement, she has at least recognised that Chihiro is being kind and looking after Rea.
For her part, Rea has adapted to the life of a zombie surprisingly fast, however, this may not be as unusual as you would first think. Rea has always had a tenuous grip on reality and in some respects life since the first time we saw her. That her family life was so turbulent and emotionally restrictive and destructive can perhaps be linked to her fascination with zombies and Chihiro’s work on Babu. When she is resurrected, there is a certain lack of emotions or surprise, with Rea easily coming to terms with what has happened, and furthermore, is happy with her change in situation.
She views Chihiro as an important person, is jealous of his loving family and fears that she might have to move out eventually. As she gets further and further into this almost emotionless zombie state, it appears that her feelings towards Chihiro gain more influence over her. When she attacks Ranko, there is some element of endearment there; she looks as if she is happy to see someone else. Equally, her reaction to seeing Chihiro is one of endearment and love, however, in both cases there is a significantly dangerous element to her love and affection. These feelings of love and affection in Rea are dangerous; they have been twisted by, not only her zombie nature, but also by her upbringing.
Coming from a household where the only love is a twisted, disturbed love from her father, Rea is does not know what a ‘normal’ family life is like. There is also an element of wishing to monopolise Chihiro, similar to in a sense to Danichirou’s wish to monopolise her. By becoming a zombie, Rea is in part controlled by her own zombie nature, giving in to her instincts and feelings without any form of rational control. Be moving into the Furuya residence, Rea seems to have settled into what she considers a normal life, one where she is free from her fathers oppression and capable of doing things herself. It is a sad state of affairs when someone like Rea suggests that she may be happy to have been turned into a zombie, since it has allowed her to live a ‘normal’ life. However, it is clear that her feelings of love for Chihiro are incredibly dangerous, and may lead to her attacking him when in some sort of zombie daze.
When we see her saving Chihiro’s life from an oncoming car, she is doing it out of a genuine wish to help and protect him, but since her body is no longer bound by her brain, she is significantly stronger and ends up hurting him. This is in a sense a brilliant way of demonstrating her feelings towards Chihiro, and how her wish to be with him as a normal girl, along with a wish to protect him end up hurting him in the end. Additionally, when she starts licking his wounds, there is something deeply creepy and disturbing about her smile, showing that while Rea may act like a normal, if slightly airheaded and naïve girl, she is still a zombie.
And while she may not act like the zombies in films, attacking anyone, there is the distinct impression that all her feelings and zombie instincts are being channelled towards Chihiro. This, along with the reappearance of Danichirou’s butler suggests that while there is an element of normality about Chihiro’s and Rea’s current lifestyle, it will not stay that way forever. What is so engaging about this series in a sense, is the way the main characters are fully aware of their current situation, and know that they cannot simply stay idle. Chihiro in particular is conscious of his duties towards his family, and his responsibilities for Rea, knowing that he has turned her into a zombie (albeit accidentally) and therefore must make sure that she can continue to live this happy, normal life that she wishes for.